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Need to Know: How Redskins, Seahawks have differed in team building

May 30, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 30, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.

(I’m out on vacation this week. I’ll be bringing back some of the more popular and talked about posts from the past. Enjoy the “best of” posts and if you’re in Corolla, NC give me a shout!)

Last February the Seahawks came within a “WTF” play call of winning their second consecutive Super Bowl. The Redskins, on the other hand, knew that they would be headed home in late December a couple of months before the season actually ended. Why are the Seahawks where they are and why are the Redskins where they are?

The answer, of course, is complicated but let’s take two players, one from each team, and compare them.


You don’t have to be an expert in analytics to figure out that the two players had comparable seasons. If you’re going to give one the edge you’d have to give it to Player A. But the two players really aren’t comparable in terms of what they cost their teams and what they say about how their respective teams were built.

Player A is defensive tackle Jordan Hill, age 23, of the Seahawks. He was a third-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2013 (87th overall). The Seahawks paid him $495,000 in 2014 and he counted $651,000 against the cap.

Player B is defensive end Jason Hatcher, age 32, a free agent signed by the Redskins in 2014. The Redskins wrote him checks totaling $10.5 million to him this year and his cap number was $3.75 million.

I think you can see where I’m going here. The Seahawks needed a defensive lineman and they had Hill waiting in the wings after he played sparingly as a rookie. The Redskins needed someone on the DL and they had to go throw big free agent money at a 32-year-old coming off of a career year.

To be fair, it’s possible that Hill would not have had as many sacks if he was playing for the Redskins since he was playing on a team that had the lead much of the time. The Redskins trailed much more frequently than they led. And if you put Hatcher in Seattle, he may well have had more sacks.

And it’s not as though the Seahawks have never gone out to sign a free agent defensive lineman. In 2013, they signed Michael Bennett after he had spent a while on the free agent market. He wasn’t cheap–$4.8 million for one year—but he was a player the Seahawks, who had advanced to the divisional round in 2012, believed would push them over the top.

They were right. Bennett was their best defensive lineman, getting 8.5 sacks during the season plus another 1.5 sacks and three forced fumbles during the playoffs. That playoff run, as you know, ended with the Seahawks hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Back to the original comparison, Hatcher likely will be gone after this year as his cap number becomes untenable for a 34-year-old lineman in 2016. He will leave behind $4.5 million in dead cap when he goes.

The Seahawks will have two more years of Hill at minimum salary before they have to decide what to do with him. If he remains productive, he can be re-signed to what will likely be a reasonable contract. Should they decide to let him go, perhaps because another defensive lineman they drafted in the middle rounds has overtaken him on the depth chart, the Seahawks would not have to deal with any dead money on their cap.

Scot McCloughan was part of the personnel department that drafted Hill. From 2010-2014 the Seahawks drafted 12 defensive linemen. In some years they drafted DL even when it wasn’t considered to be an area of “need”. That’s how you get a Jordan Hill.

The Redskins? They have drafted two defensive linemen since 2010. They also took Chris Baker off of the scrap heap and developed him into a pretty good end. But for the most part when they have needed defensive linemen they have gone to the free agent market, signing Hatcher, Barry Cofield, and Stephen Bowen to big-money deals. And now that age is catching up with all three of them the Redskins have no ready replacements.

It might take a while for the Redskins to get where the Seahawks are. In fact, they might never get there. But if they keep on bringing in hired guns like Hatcher instead of drafting guys like Hill, they will never even close the gap.


—It’s been 153 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 106 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 17; Redskins training camp starts 61; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 117

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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  1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 30, 2015 at 8:21 AM

    Hatcher had a great year for Dallas (in a different system) the year before.

    His contract can be justified if you feel that you’re one player away. Of course, the Redskins were many players away. That’s been our story time and again, throughout the ‘offseason splash’ era.

    Glad it’s finally over.

  2. mr.moneylover - May 30, 2015 at 10:04 AM

    If jason hatcher have a good year thats a good thing for scot m. Why? Because he will trade jason hatcher to acquire more draft picks we gave tampa bay our 5 round pick for dashon goldson and we got there 6th… scot m. Is known to acquire 10 or 11 draft picks and he likes saving money to give to the ppl who actually deserves the money…

    • JC - May 30, 2015 at 11:02 PM

      Not going to happen. The guy is 32 going on 33.

  3. ET - May 30, 2015 at 10:15 AM

    Hatcher is a good player and I’m glad he’s with the Skins. But yeah, Allen overpaid for the guy, flat out.

    Scot seems determined to make sure there’s a line of succession at each position, so new players step into place as the former starter age out or leave via free agency. Seems so simple. But the Skins haven’t been able to do this for years.

  4. bangkokben - May 30, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    Chester gets signed with Falcons for $2.8M. Joining Kyle and Polumbus.

    • jonevans511 - May 30, 2015 at 11:07 AM

      Suffice it to say, Matt Ryan has dropped in value from a fantasy perspective. lol.

    • kenlinkins - May 30, 2015 at 4:39 PM

      That should make for a fun game on Oct 11 at the Falcons in game 5! Hankerson and Nick Williams are also in Falcon land trying to make the team. I bet Mike Shanahan shows up in Atlanta for that game!

    • lakeshow028 - May 30, 2015 at 9:58 PM

      LOL at Falcons

  5. oreo51 - May 30, 2015 at 2:46 PM

    Pete Carroll has done a magnificent job developing the players he has acquired regardless of where they came from. No one wanted Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, or Richard Sherman. Their WR’s are largely UDFA players that spent time on the practice squad. Tom Cable believes all OL’s need to be completely retrained when they get to the NFL, so why use high draft picks on them. Michael Bennett came cheap. Cliff Avril came cheap. The Seahawks find guys with talent and develop that talent. Other teams feel they can only win if they hit the lottery with a first or second round draft pick or big money free agent.

    • hk2000 - May 31, 2015 at 12:38 PM

      Exactly- I’m thinking the same thing, but I couldn’t have communicated it better. All those players have the physical abilities- big strong men who need the coaches to teach them how to develop and utilize those physical attributes. Gruden on the other hand says “It’s no coach’s fault or anything like that, we just have got to do a better job of preaching …….” So to him, coaching is just a matter of preaching, which to me means, he assumes players already know how to play the position and only need a reminder to go do it!!! That is ridiculous, but that to me is why we haven’t been developing players, our coaches do not have the mindset to do it.

      • bangkokben - May 31, 2015 at 12:54 PM

        The only thing ridiculous is you assigning that context to that quote. It is true he said those words. Answering questions about the lack of defensive turnovers last season is the context. So to blanket a quote regarding one aspect of the team’s failures as a philosophy is beyond ridiculous. It’s plain stupid. It’s STUPIDICULOUS.

        As for the lack of player development, that is a long systemic problem that has yet to be solved.

        • hk2000 - May 31, 2015 at 2:20 PM

          What’s stupid is to continually turn a blind eye to the most glaring issue on this team and continue discussing player signings and roster. As Oreo51 mentioned above, good teams, i.e. good coaches, take unknowns and outcasts and turn them to great players- see Belichick, and Carroll. You have a coach that left team A for team B, and neither team A regressed, nor team B improved- NADA, it’s like he’s not even there. Even the media circus continued, thanks to his ‘openness’!! what was he supposed to do again????

        • bangkokben - May 31, 2015 at 2:32 PM

          Nada. No. The Redskins went for 0-6 in the division to 2-4. The Bengals went from winning their division to a wild card team. Obviously, this is micro change but it is change nonetheless. Holding Gruden accountable for Shanahan’s failures is what is stupid. Carrol and Shanahan took control of their teams at the same time. So who failed?

        • Skulb - May 31, 2015 at 2:53 PM


          You say that as if it obvious what the issue is to you, which is peculiar when you can barely find two people who agree on that, apparently including in the Redskins organization. Looking at Gruden`s first year I liked him and thought the team made a bit of progress in many areas. I even felt bad for him and thought he deserved a couple more wins than he got. There are/were so many issues with this team in 2013-14 that to blame all of them on Gruden sounds somewhat silly. If nothing else Shanahan needs to take some of the heat for a lot of that. This is my off-the-top-of-my-head list of things that caused the last two losing seasons, or at least one of them:

          1: Changing systems. This always takes at least 1-2 seasons. If you want to blame anyone for that you should blame Snyder.

          2: Poor pass blocking.

          3: Poor QB performances.

          4: Miserable TO ratio.

          5: Failed passing game.

          6: Failed running game.

          7: Average to poor special needs play.

          8: Some suspect play calling.

          9: Poor execution of plays.

          10: Failed defensive assignments.

          11: QB injuries (Again)

          You wanna lay all this on Gruden go right ahead. Some of it was probably due to lacking and/or confused coaching. But it was so comprehensively bad/average that at some point player responsibility has to come in. Gruden didn`t order Cousins to throw four interceptions in one game or RGIII to hold onto the ball for 20 seconds before running off the field. He also didn`t order Morris and Reed to miss all their blocks, Logan to drop half his passes or Polumbus and Chester to be overrun on the right side ten times per game. I mean what is he here; a wizard of some kind, perfectly mind controlling his minions? You can hardly evaluate the guy when his players are unable to carry out his plays. Well maybe you can, but you can`t judge his plays or tactical ability, just his coaching.
          The Skins now have five losing seasons in a row if you except the 2012 anomaly and has one division title since 1999. Is all of that Gruden`s fault too?

        • hk2000 - May 31, 2015 at 5:45 PM

          You’re listing the itemized results of coaching failures. All of these are failures, not causes for failure. Not trying to be philosophical here, but my contention is coaching can fix most if not even ALL of your list. When I say coaching I’m including, HC as well DC, OC and all position coaches! ( Although I don’t blame McVeigh for any of it, he was OC in name only)

  6. John Sparks - May 30, 2015 at 4:09 PM

    Every day I thank goodness that we finally have a GM that knows what he is doing!

    • Skulb - May 30, 2015 at 9:20 PM

      Oh I don`t know; Chester and Polumbus both to Atlanta. What oh what shall we do?

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 31, 2015 at 7:40 AM

        Good: They can both block in a ZBS running game.

        Bad: Asking them to do anything else.

      • hk2000 - May 31, 2015 at 12:26 PM

        K. Shanahan may have been disliked or maybe even despised by many fans here, but I still believe he is a great OC. I’ll bet the Falcons’ offense improves a lot this year.

        • Skulb - May 31, 2015 at 2:34 PM

          I have no hard feelings toward either of them. My only gripe with Mike was that he let Griffin play after he hurt his knee against Baltimore. Very irresponsible by both him and Griffin I think.

  7. kenlinkins - May 30, 2015 at 4:50 PM

    IMO there are 10 main areas for every NGL Team: 1. Special Teams / Back up depth 2. Kicker / Punter 3. QB play 4. O-Line 5. O Play makers 6. O Game plan / Coaching / Adjustments 7. D back Field 8. Pass Rush 9. D Play makers 10. D Game Plan / Coaching / Adjustments. In 2014 the Redskins had only one game where they had 8 or more areas working, on Avg I would say that they had 3 areas working at any one time and won about 30% of their games. I will be watching the Preseason to see if the moves made by the new GM are going together and if the Redskins look to Avg 5 to 6 areas working well. If so, maybe I could then say I see 8 wins (50%) for the 2015 season. This Preseason will in fact be very important to follow to see which areas are ready to produce and which areas will require adjustments to get on track. IMO 80% of the moves will have to be successful for a winning season.

  8. lakeshow028 - May 30, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    McCloughan knows what he’s doing and let’s hope Snyder don’t screw it up. Archives

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